So… What did YOU find?

According to a friend of mine, there are no good partners out there to be had. They all eventually leave, abandon, and go astray from my friends side. Therefore all partnerships are doomed to fail from the off and must be viewed at the outset with skepticism and a critical eye. My friend complained that the current relationship was repeating a lifelong pattern of abandonment and was at a loss for what to do.

I was stunned at my friends dismay and said to myself that I needed a sign on how to offer advice. I didn’t need to wait long.

Enter Sunday morning service. The pastor is discussing many interesting passages of faith learning. Not one scripture was given priority over another; somewhat unusual for him. Typically, his sermons are focused and raw from several supporting Words from The Lord. But on this day, I felt like the Holy Spirit had led him to speak from many passages because his flock had many issues, no one like the parishioner next to her or him or them. At one point he said something that spoke to me. He touched on Matthew 6:33 and I knew then I was heart from The Lord. Then later I returned to my friend and noticed others had spoken a prophetic word as well. They said things like, “.. I’m sorry this happened to you… How will you go on?… Maybe you need to go to other places to find relationship if the same dry well you return to is stagnant and reeking with the same funk of the others…” But one stood out to me and said that perhaps a spiritual journey was in order. The one said that with a spiritual journey inner peace might yet be found.

I was elevated immediately and entered the conversation. I said to my friend that it is a great idea to have a spiritual journey. It needn’t be anything formal. It could simply be a walk amongst the dusty stacks in a local library. Or a short jog down a well used hiking path nearby. Or perhaps a quiet moment or two taken for self reflection in a favorite reading nook somewhere. But whatever path taken, the journey was ultimately a path to peace. A path that would begin with a spiritual journey because only with inner peace could outer peace be found. Peace in life and relationship.

My point was this:

God is in us. God is peace. God is love. God desires relationship with us. By seeking Him, we find peace which is the essence of love. By going a spiritual journey that begins with one small step, we are seeking God.

…. Seek ye first, the kingdom of heaven….

The spiritual journey is a path to peace that is seeking God. God is within us if we could be still and listen closely enough to hear Him. The spiritual journey is seeking God and finding him inside you and thereby finding peace and ultimately love. We find love where we seek it. We find peace where we seek it.

On a macro scale, we find only what we seek.

Recall Star Wars. Yoda directed Luke to enter the grotto. Luke grasped his weapons. Yoda chided him saying he would not need them, knowing he would only find what he brought in there with him. If Luke brought anger, fear, envy, weapons, all the things Yoda was attempting to turn Luke away from, those are what he would find. And indeed he did. He found Darth Vader and within he found himself.

That’s fantasy. But there is a great truth in it.

We tend to find most readily the things we are searching for the most earnestly. If we are seeking peace, we shall find it, sometimes serendipitously. If we seek war, we shall find it. If we seek negative folk. Criminals. Love. We will find it all.

Consider for a moment my own story: I was in need of an automobile and had loved the Mini Cooper as a concept but wasn’t sure if it was a good vehicle. But once I set my heart on seeking it out as a path to transportation, I suddenly noticed just how many are on the streets. I expect they were there all along, but it wasn’t until I was taking due notice of them. Focusing on them. Journeying toward the ultimate purchase of a used one, that I noticed them and how many there were. My point is I sought them and they suddenly were plain to me. I was aware they existed but wasn’t seeing them until I looked for them.

For my friend, I suggested that by seeking what was desired most in relationship, the spiritual inner journey must take place first. Why? Because by knowing love and peace within it would be that much easier to recognize peace and love without. Not to be fooled or drawn in to a relationship with one who isn’t loving or kind but is instead a user and abandoner.

Seek… And ye shall find.

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Drunken journey

I’ve never gone anywhere that I was expected to eat or drink at some point and NOT tried someone new, off the beaten path or simply unexpected. Some folk get very nervous when they try new things. They shy away from the third page of the local Japanese restaurant. Run out the room when the barista offers a new concoction she has been toiling over. Scream with terror when the menu comes out and it’s in three languages, none your own, and then won’t order anything but a burger.

Me. I gravitate to those things.

Enter my swollen feet to the streets of Seattle. I cannot tell you how much I was looking forward to this trip. The distance and the mountains as I peered at them with the side eye from my seat not withstanding, I couldn’t wait to get off the airplane and drink my way across the city. Only thing I didn’t know was if the hype was just that. Thankfully it was not just hype. I’m pleased to report that the coffee culture that is, is. The even better news is that the evil empire known around here as Starbucks has NOT crushed all the mom and pops. The Top Pots, Cherry Street and Yellow Leaf Cupcakes of the metropolis are alive and well.

The thing that has always made me happiest is knowing that there are small town and city street hidden gems of places. The kinds of gems that don’t advertise. Mostly because they can’t afford to. Don’t put on airs. Mostly because they don’t have to. They are simply good at what they do. They serve donuts. Coffee. Sandwiches. Experiences. Joy. In abundance and gleefully. They get as happy as I am when I waltz through the door, plunk down a few bucks and slurp, slurp, slurp! The espressos I’ve imbibed, the cups of joe I’ve consumed, the glasses of bourbon I’ve gladly sipped have told me that there is joy yet in the world. A joy that is not found in thrill seeking or getting away with”it”. It’s a simple joy found by returning to the basics. Put on my shoes, sling on my pack, juice up my iPad and away I go.

Sure, I went to Mecca (Starbucks), because it’s like required reading in ninth grade. But that is absolutely not where I stopped. That was only a start. I traveled the coffee culture scene by word of mouth, eves dropping and general nosiness. And I have no regrets.

This won’t be a long blog. I’m a little too hype on coffee and espresso to focus for long. But I’ll say this.

No matter what your journey is. Whether you are sampling unpronounceable foods or exotic drinks. Back alley bookstores or word of mouth directors studio sized movie houses. Garden apartment parties or libraries that are sheer palaces to the literate. Do not rent a car. Not take a taxi. Do not buy a bus pass. Walk or bike to these places. You will smell the neighborhoods. You will learn much about your chosen destination. Ever so much more than if you simply drove there.

I mean I’m not slow. I know you’ll have to travel to some locations by transportation of one kind or another. But once you’ve been dropped off: don’t hide behind glass and steel on wheels. Let your ears hear. Your eyes see. Your nose sniff. The world is still very much alive with humans. They all love to chat and share their stories with you. And sometimes, just sometimes, the stories are worth slowing down a bit and listening to over a cup of ground beans made palatable with a bit of hot water.

Let me borrow: stay thirsty, my friends.